Types of Hair Colour: Guide to All the Different Colouring Techniques

There may be a million types of hair colour, but these are the techniques you need to know...  

When it comes to the many types of hair colour, is your brain left in a spin? We understand, we’re feeling dizzy ourselves. But don’t worry, because if you’re looking for a colour transformation, yet don’t know your ombre from you balayage, you’re in luck…

Below we break down the different types of hair colour with all the need-to-know deets on the various colour techniques available on the market. And to top it all off, our inspiration gallery will ensure you walk away with a clear idea of what your next hue will be. Enjoy!

Permanent Hair Shades

woman with long wavy dark hair
Permanent colours never go out of fashion. Credit: Instagram.com/val.mercado

Permanent shades are the same as temporary colours on appearance, but whereas a temporary colour will begin to fade relatively quickly, a permanent colour fades far slower. Note: although it is called ‘permanent’, there is no ever-lasting colour, but it can remain vibrant for longer if properly cared for.

Most types of hair colour are available as a permanent option and it is often regarded as the most popular choice for women when it comes to trialling different types of hair colour.

However, if you’re thinking of colouring your hair and want a more natural finish, we suggest starting out by using a temporary colour. Then, when you’re ready to commit, stick to shades that are no more than 2 shades darker than your natural hair colour. Credit: @val.mercado

Temporary Hair Colour

long silver straight hair
Want to experiment? Choose a temporary colour. Credit: Instagram.com/beautybytrexo

Just like permanent hair colours, you can’t tell whether someone has a temporary colour by the naked eye (unless you are a hair colourist maybe).

The huge appeal of temporary hair colours is that you can experiment with all the latest hair colour trends (like this silver hue) without the full commitment.

Be warned, though, that temporary hair colours tend to gradually fade after each wash, so be prepared for the colour to change throughout this time – especially if you do go for colours like pastel or opal hues. Credit: @beautybytrexo

Hair with Highlights

back view of long brown highlighted hair
Highlights are a girl’s best friend. Credit: Instagram.com/secretly.jess

Can anyone remember life before highlights? The colouring technique was the original way to achieve sun-kissed tresses (before balayage that is) but that’s not all they are good for, oh no.

Highlights help to add a multi-dimensional effect to the hair and, if thoughts of those caps with the little holes pop into your mind, rest assured that highlights have come a long way since then – thankfully! Credit: @secretly.jess

Editor’s tip: Show off your new hue with a cool beach wave finish. Get the look by spritzing towel-dried tresses with the TONI&GUY Sea Salt Texturising Spray after blow-drying and this will help to create tousled waves and rough texture to your locks.


woman with long brown blonde lowlights way hair
Lowlights help to darken tresses. Credit: Instagram.com/saloncouture.ny

While highlights help to lighten strands of hair, lowlights do the opposite by working to darken the hair. Often used in a combination with other colouring techniques, lowlights add depth and dimension to your hair hue.

This colouring technique is ideal for those with lighter strands who want to test the waters with a dark hue, without getting an all over colour. Lowlights can also help hair appear thicker and more voluminous, making it a great colouring technique for ladies with fine hair. Credit: @saloncouture.ny

Get the lowdown on lowlights.

Balayage Hair

woman with long brown balayage wavy hair
Balayage hues are a super popular choice. Credit: Instagram.com/danielmbeauty

Balayage hair has fast become the hottest, most requested colouring technique thanks to the long list of A-list stars rocking the look. This freehand colouring technique offers a natural finish that can be as heavily or lightly coloured as you like.

We love the balayage technique for adding a sunkissed look too brown shades or lightening blonde tresses. Credit: @danielmbeauty

Find out everything you need to know about balayage hair.

Ombre Colour

back view of long dark brown wavy hair with ombre finish
Ombre hues can be a cool way to try new hues. Credit: Instagram.com/hairdressersthatslay

Ombre is a shadowing technique used to seamlessly blend two colours, with hair generally being darker at the roots and gradually fade into a lighter shade towards the tips. While it sounds relatively similar to dip-dye, the aim of an ombre is to have no harsh lines between the two shades, making it a more elegant look.

From Lily Aldridge to Drew Barrymore, all the big names have been spotted with an ombre and thanks to its low-maintenance appeal, it’s the perfect colour choice for those who don’t want to be burdened by regular touch-ups. Credit: @hairdressersthatslay

All the ombre hair inspiration and information you will ever need.

Editor’s tip: No matter what hair colour you choose, remember you will need to switch to a wash and care system formulated especially with coloured tresses in mind. We love the Dove Colour Care Shampoo and Conditioner for keeping colour vibrant for longer.

Root Colour

woman with dark roots on long blonde hair
Adding a darker root to light tresses is all the rage right now. Credit: Instagram.com/naturigin

This new colour trend is a surprising entry when looking for different types of hair colour. From Selena Gomez to Hailey Baldwin, celebrities and Instagram girls are deliberately colouring their roots a darker colour. But why? To achieve a more ’90s grunge look of course. Credit: @naturigin

Have you heard? Grown out roots is officially trending!

Henna Hair Dye

back view of long brown auburn straight hair in half-up, half-down style
Henna is a natural chemical-free way to colour your hair. Credit: Instagram.com/radheshyamsa

If you’re looking for something different when it comes to types of hair colour, you will love henna. Not just reserved for body art, henna is fast becoming the go-to option for those looking for a natural chemical-free way to colour their tresses.

And that’s not all. How you colour your hair with henna may not be how it turns out for your best friend. Why? Because henna works with your existing hair colour, so all results will vary on each person and give you a totally unique hue! Credit: @radheshyamsa

Want to know if henna works for those with curly hair?

Hair Chalk

back view of woman with shoulder length silver hair and opal finish
Hair chalks are super fun and creative. Credit: Instagram.com/pixielottpaint

Ready to have some fun? Of course, you are, then hair chalks are just what you need.

From festivals to party styles, hair chalk is a super fun way to be creative with your hair and once the night is over, you can simply wash out the colour (but not those memories). Credit: @pixielottpaint

The hair chalk styles we are loving right now!

Shop the article

  1. TONI&GUY Sea Salt Texturising Spray
  2. Dove Colour Care Shampoo
  3. Dove Colour Care Conditioner
  4. Bleach London
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